Michigan Senate votes 23-13 on two bills to change No-Fault law on attendant care, benefits for senior drivers and create one-sided fraud authority
The full Michigan Senate has passed two No-Fault bills – Senate Bill 787 and Senate Bill 1014 – which, if passed by the House and enacted into law, will substantially alter the rights and benefits guaranteed to car, truck and motorcycle accident victims.
The Senate-approved versions of the bills – both of which were passed on 23-13 votes (with Senate Democrats voting unanimously in opposition) – reflect the proposals voted out by the Senate Insurance Committee just two days ago, which I described in my blog post yesterday.
Specifically, if they ultimately become law, SB 787 and SB 1014 will change the law as follows:
- Dupe drivers who are “65 years of age or older” to surrender currently unlimited No-Fault medical care and PIP benefits in return for being woefully underinsured with only a $50,000 cap on ALL auto No-Fault insurance benefits, including not only reimbursement of medical bills and medical expenses, but also wage loss benefits (as many people no longer retire at 65 but choose to continue working) and replacement services, medical mileage and attendant care.
- Immunize insurance agents against errors and omissions liability for “damages caused” by the agent’s “conduct … related to obtaining or providing information, or the choice of personal protection insurance benefits by an insured” who is 65 years or older and who chooses to trade unlimited auto No Fault benefits for a $50,000 No-Fault cap.
- Require insurers to present to drivers who are 65 years of age or older and who want to give up unlimited No-Fault benefits in return for a $50,000 cap a form that states, “in a conspicuous manner, the benefits and risks associated with” keeping unlimited coverage and/or opting out in favor of the $50,000 limit.
- During the first 56 hours of in-home, family-provided attendant care, the reimbursement “payment” to the provider “is limited to a reasonable and customary amount.” For “attendant care in excess of 56 hours provided in a week,” the hourly reimbursement rate is “limited to $15.00 per hour, regardless of the level of care provided” and regardless of skill, training, licensure or employment of the family-member provider. (Note: The “medical review” provision from the original version of SB 1014 was not included in the version passed by the full Senate. This provision allowed that if a “medical review” determines that a car accident victim “requires attendant care that exceeds the limitations” above “to provide adequate treatment,” then the “additional care” is covered by No-Fault.)
- The proposed No-Fault fraud authority will not target unfair claims and settlement practices by Michigan No-Fault auto insurance companies.
As I explained in my blog post yesterday, there are plenty of reasons why all of these proposed changes to our auto No Fault laws are terrible ideas that will hurt consumers and car accident injury victims.
Not the least of which is the lack of guaranteed savings for drivers, especially the drivers “65 years of age or older” whom SB 787 is trying to shift from No-Fault to Medicare.
The idea of guaranteed savings for forfeiting unlimited No-Fault benefits in favor of a $50,000 cap was proposed, but, apparently, roundly rejected by Senate Republicans.
MLive’s Emily Lawler reported in her June 7, 2018, story that:
“Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, said that he was disappointed his amendment to guarantee a 10 percent savings for seniors failed. ‘Their unwillingness to even have a vote on savings for consumers says a lot about the reality of this package, that it really wasn’t about saving money,’ Ananich said.”
This is unfortunate news, but it’s not terribly surprising because the insurance companies and the Republicans have been trying to alter and dismantle No-Fault.
I’m all for trying to lower prices of auto insurance, but these policies seem intent primarily on raising already fat profit margins for the insurers at the expense of consumers.
There is still no guarantees or requirements to lower the cost of auto insurance, so this continues to be more of a political boondoggle of taking from injured car accident victims so it can be given to the insurance companies, with no requirement that they lower prices for auto No-Fault insurance.